In a controversy that might seem bizarre to some and a question of belief to others, the viral sensation game Players Unknown Battleground (PUBG) has removed an update that had sparked outrage in the Muslim community.
The developers of the game, in a new update, had introduced the Mysterious Jungle Mode that was exclusive to the Sanhok map. The feature was an instant hit as it introduced features like eating mysterious jungle fruits, hot air balloons, and more.
But the bone of contention of the aforementioned outrage was a feature present in the game where the players could go and pray in front of a totem in order to restore their health. The feature was only available for five days as backlash from Islamic societies for allegedly pushing ‘idol worshipping’ which is considered a sin/haram in the Muslim world started growing pace.
By praying to the idols, the players can restore their health, and get consumables like energy drinks, health kit, etc. However, many Muslim players took this as an insult to their religion as idol worship is a sin in Islam. The idolatry has been considered as the “worship of false gods” and is forbidden in Islam.
The Islamic netizens were particularly enraged over the update and took to Twitter to trend the #boycottPUBG hashtag.
Here is New update Shirk (idol worship) version of @PUBG.
Before playing this game think once who are you and why god created you? Retweet#boycottpubg @PUBG_Support #uninstallPUBG#MuslimTwitter #MuslimLivesMatter #Muslims4Justice #MuslimBrotherhood #Islam #Islamic pic.twitter.com/1byIYySSPd
— Dr. Himanshi Morya (@any_morya) June 3, 2020
Another Muslim twitter recited the Quran and said that Idol worshipping was a sin.
Even if it's in the game that's shirk. RasoolAllah(Saw) came to shun idol worshipping and guiding humans towards one true god☝️.
— Syeda Raffath ❤️ (@Smiling__Girlll) June 4, 2020
— Shaan Tweet (@Shaantweet_) June 5, 2020
The update had created significant waves in the Gulf countries, especially Kuwait. Gulf News quoted Dr. Bassam Al Shatti, Professor of faith at the College of Sharia, Kuwait University, saying, “Video games feature many pros and cons, but PUBG has violated Islamic beliefs regarding prostration and bowing to idols, and this is the greatest sin in Islam because prostrating and bowing is worship and glorification solely and exclusively to Almighty Allah”.
The Chinese start-up Tencent which owns the game developed by South Korean company Bluehole Inc. came up with a statement after removing the new feature. “We are deeply sorry that some features in the game have offended some of our players. We respect the values, traditions, and practices of our players and regret the hurt and anguish that we’ve caused. We have removed the distressing gesture and are removing the relevant visuals.” Tencent told Gulf news.
PUBG has been making headlines ever since it was first released in 2017. It quickly climbed to the top of the download charts across the world. PUBG is a survival-themed battle game that drops 100 online players on an island where they try and eliminate each other.
Recently, Steam had also made the game free on its platform for three days and had slashed the price in half to purchase afterward.
But the removal of the game from the platform raises one pertinent question that ‘even the virtual games have to be ‘Halal-ised’ to fit the narrative of the Islamic world?’ An update that the Muslim gamers could have well and truly avoided playing if it hurt their religious sentiments is starting a disturbing trend that does not bode well for the society. Even though the Mobile app is Chinese which we discourage playing in the first place, but one cannot quash the creative liberties of a game developer.
Video games are one of the newest forms of entertainment in the modern world, however, there is often controversy and moral panic when video games engage religion. But unfortunately painting a game anti-Islamic for a reason as such petty as this does not augur well for anybody.